Page 6 - ServSafe Manager Study Guide for the ServSafe

Facility Safety and Pest Management

Your facility requires specific needs, so identifying the ways in which your equipment, materials, utilities, etc. affect safety and pest management is important for your food and staff safety.

Interior Building Requirements

Everything in your facility should be considered with food safety in mind. If changes are required, you may need to consult your local regulatory authority before making them, including changes to facility or equipment.

Floors, Walls, and Ceilings

These should be smooth and durable for ease of cleaning and must be regularly maintained. Replace missing or broken ceiling or floor tiles and repair cracks and holes in ceiling or walls. Floors should have a sealed curved edge between them and the wall for ease of cleaning (coving), and it should be glued flush and tightly to the wall to inhibit insects and moisture. Standing water (when cleaning) should be removed with a squeegee or mopped as soon as possible.


Foodservice equipment that will come in contact with food must meet specific standards and must also be durable, damage resistant, and simple to clean.

Selection (ANSI and other requirements)

NSF International creates national standards for foodservice equipment and the NSF logo is easy to identify. NSF is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and NSF/ANSI standards mean equipment is non-absorbent, corrosion resistant, and smooth.

Installation and Maintenance

Stationary equipment must be easy to clean around and under, and legs must be at least 6 inches off the floor. Follow manufacturer and local regulatory authority requirements when installing equipment. Tabletop equipment must be either 4 inches off the counter or sealed to the counter. Installed equipment should be checked and maintained regularly, including by their manufacturers.


Dishwashers can be hot water or chemical sanitizing and should be installed in a convenient location that keeps everything being cleaned from becoming contaminated. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on installation, use, and maintenance. Only use approved detergents and sanitizers. Dishwashers must be able to measure water temperature, water pressure, and cleaning and sanitizing chemical concentration. They should be cleaned often according to local regulatory authority requirements and the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Three-Compartment Sinks

Three-compartment sinks must be large enough to accommodate large pots, pans, equipment, and utensils in each sink basin.

Handwashing Stations

These should be easy to reach and are required in or next to restrooms, and in food prep areas, service areas, and dishwashing areas. Handwashing sinks cannot be used for any other purpose.

Building Systems and Utilities

Facility utilities include water, electric, sewage, gas, and trash removal. Facility systems include plumbing, lighting, and ventilation. Utilities and systems must work properly or they risk even greater contamination.

Water and Plumbing

Only drinkable (potable) water can be used to prepare food or come in contact with food prep surfaces. It must come from: approved public water mains, private sources that have been regularly tested and maintained, closed potable containers, or water transport vehicles. Plumbing must be correctly installed. Cross-connections that may allow backflow of contaminated water into safe water (backsiphonage) must be prevented. Avoid cross-connections and never attach a hose to a faucet without a vacuum breaker attached, a double check valve, or a reduced pressure zone backflow preventer. The best way to prevent backflow is to create an air gap. Correctly installed sinks usually have 2 air gaps, one at the faucet and one at the drainpipe. Grease buildups are another plumbing concern, so grease traps are usually installed for prevention. Clean these often and according to the manufacturer’s details.


Proper lighting ensures a safe and easy to clean facility. Certain areas of the facility have specific lighting intensity requirements and lighting should be monitored. Bulbs should be the correct size, shatterproof (or have protective covers to prevent physical contamination), and replaced when burned out.


Ventilation removes heat, steam, smoke, fumes, odors, etc. from the facility. Ventilation systems also prevent grease buildup and condensation. Clean often and according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.


Trash should be taken from prep areas as soon as possible to minimize pests and contamination. Clean inside and outside trash containers frequently in their designated cleaning area. Ensure indoor trash cans are leakproof, pestproof, covered, and easy to clean. Keep large cans separate from food areas and surfaces in order to avoid public health risks. Outdoor containers must be on smooth, durable surfaces that are non-absorbent, like asphalt or concrete, and should have tight-fitting lids.


The facility should be cleaned on a regular basis and all building systems should be checked regularly. There should be no leaks or cracks anywhere and any you do have should be filled. Pests should be controlled, and the outside of the facility should be maintained, including parking lots and patio areas. This helps keep food safety problems at a minimum.


Common emergencies like power outages, fires, floods, and sewage backups can affect food safety. These are considered imminent health hazards by the local regulatory authority, and are significant threats or dangers to public health that require either immediate correction or facility closure to protect health.

Power Loss

Power loss means a breakdown in refrigeration that exposes food to time-temperature abuse, especially TCS foods. The longer the exposure, the greater the risk of pathogen growth.

Physical Danger

An unauthorized person inside your facility is a risk to food safety, especially if they can access storage and food prep areas. Emergencies and acts of nature such as heavy storms may also weaken a facility’s physical security.

Water Supply Loss or Contamination

Broken water mains or issues at water treatment facilities are a risk to food safety. Water supplies can also be contaminated by terrorists. Water service must be stopped and your local regulatory authority notified if a significant risk is determined. Your regulatory authority may allow your facility to continue operating if you have a pre-approved emergency plan, immediate corrective action is taken to prevent or control any hazards, or the regulatory authority is informed upon implementation of your emergency plan. Care must be taken in cleaning and sanitizing the facility, disposing of any spoiled or contaminated foods, verifying the water supply is drinkable, and time-temperature control has been established for TCS foods.

Pest Control

Vermin, bugs, and other pests that find their way into your facility cause harm not only to your business’s reputation, but also damage inventory items and facilities. Worst of all, they carry harmful diseases, some of which are foodborne illnesses.


Preventing pests is the best control. Discourage pests’ access to your facility by promptly removing trash and keeping pest-proof cans (trash and recycling) clean with tight-fitting lids. Check deliveries for signs of pests before they enter your facility. Secure all pest access points like windows, vents, and pipes, and repair all cracks in floors or ceilings. Never give pests the opportunity to find food, water, or shelter in your facility. Promptly clean spills and crumbs, and store all foods as soon as possible. Keep supplies 6 inches from the floor and wall, and practice FIFO rotation.

Control with Professionals

Lastly, work with a licensed pest control operator (PCO). They recognize small signs that could indicate larger issues and take immediate action, which may include using materials only they are certified to apply.

Additional Terms and Concepts to Study:

Cleaning and Sanitizing
Garbage Management
Pest Management

Cleaning and Sanitization

A clean and sanitized environment is necessary to keep foods safe, including all tools, equipment, and surfaces used in your facility.


Cleaning removes food and dirt and can be done using detergents, degreasers, delimers, or abrasive cleaners that must be non-corrosive and safe to use. Cleaners must be provided and available to all staff at all times. Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on how to use them correctly, and only use cleaners for their intended purpose. Never use one cleaner instead of another unless they are used for the same purpose.


Sanitizing follows cleaning and rinsing and reduces any remaining pathogens to safe levels. Anything used for food, including surfaces, must be sanitized after cleaning and rinsing.

Types of Sanitizing

Sanitizing can be done either by using heat or chemicals.


Hot water used for sanitizing must be at least 171°F to be effective. Items must also be soaked in this water for at least 30 seconds. Another way to heat sanitize is passing items through a high-temperature dish machine.


Items can be soaked in or sprayed with a chemical sanitizing solution. Chlorine, iodine, and quaternary ammonium compounds (quats) are three common sanitizers. Detergent-sanitizer blends may be used if you have a two-compartment sink (used first to clean then a second time to sanitize). Sanitizers are regulated by state and federal environmental protection agencies and must be provided and available to all staff at all times.

Sanitizer Effectiveness

Chemical sanitizers require proper concentration, pH, temperature, contact time, and water hardness to work effectively.


The mix of chemical sanitizer to water is crucial. Too little and it’s too weak, too much and it’s too strong, making it unsafe and possibly leaving an aftertaste, or causing corrosion on metal items. Concentration is measured in parts per million (ppm). A test kit is used to measure strength, and the kit should be made for the sanitizer you’re testing. Make sure kits are available to all staff at all times. Change the sanitizer solution once the water gets dirty or low.


Water temperature must align with the sanitizer manufacturer’s guidelines.

Contact Time

Sanitizers require a specific amount of contact time to be effective; for example, soaking for 30 seconds. Consult the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Water Hardness

Water hardness can affect sanitizer, so find out your facility’s water hardness (mineral content) and consult your supplier to find the best sanitizer for your water.


Find out your water’s pH as well and consult your supplier to find the correct sanitizer for your water.


All surfaces should be cleaned, but food contact surfaces must be cleaned, rinsed, and sanitized. Clean and sanitize food contact surfaces: after they’re used, before changing ingredients (e.g., between the prep of raw chicken and lettuce), after preparing different raw TCS foods (e.g., between the prep of melons and kale), any time you’re interrupted and something may have become contaminated, and after four hours of constant use.

Food Contact

Food contact surfaces must be: cleared of all food bits with a nylon brush, pad, or cloth; washed with an approved cleaner and cloth towel; rinsed using clean water and a clean cloth; sanitized using the correct sanitizer (prepared to the correct concentration according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, using a cloth towel, and making contact with the entire surface); and air dried.

Non-Food Contact

Clean and rinse non-food contact surfaces to prevent the buildup of dirt or grease.


Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning, but in general: unplug equipment; disengage removable parts and wash, rinse, and sanitize them by hand or run through the dish machine if allowed; clear food bits from equipment surface; wash with approved cleaner and correct cleaning tool; rinse equipment with clean water and correct tool; sanitize entire surface of equipment with proper sanitizer; air dry; and put equipment pieces back on. Any equipment designed to have cleaner pumped through it (dispenser machines) must be cleaned and sanitized every day unless the manufacturer states otherwise.


Tableware and small items are often run through a dish machine, while pots and pans are washed by hand in a 3 compartment sink. Either way, choose the practice that best cleans and sanitizes the item. Then store items in ways that discourage contamination.


Dish machines may use hot water to clean and sanitize (high-temperature machines) or use chemical solutions (chemical-sanitizing machines).

  • High-temp machines must be hot enough (at least 180°F for final sanitizing, or at least 165°F for single-temperature machines) and have built in thermometers.
  • Staff must check the surface temperature of items being sanitized with maximum registering thermometers or heat tape.
  • Chemical-sanitizing machines need much lower temperatures.
  • Both should be used correctly, and maintained. Keep them clean, checking daily for foreign objects or mineral buildup.
  • Check temperature, pressure, and chemical levels, and fill tanks with clean water.
  • Always scrape and pre-rinse items, if needed, before loading, and use correct dish racks. Never overload them. Air dry everything completely before storing. Never towel dry.


When using a 3 compartment sink: clean and sanitize each basin and drain boards, prepare the wash sink in the first basin, rinse sink in the second, sanitizer solution (per manufacturer’s details or just hot water) in the third, and provide a clock with a second hand to time items dropped into sanitizer.

Scrape, rinse, or presoak items, wash in first sink with approved tool (change water and detergent as suds dissipate), rinse by dipping or spraying in second sink (change when water becomes too sudsy), sanitize in third sink (never rinse after sanitizing due to recontamination issues), and air dry items upside down on a clean and sanitized drying rack (never towel dry due to recontamination issues).

Tableware and Equipment Storage

Store utensils, equipment, and tableware in such a way as to prevent contamination. Clean and sanitize drawers and shelves before storing items, keeping them 6 inches off the floor and protected from moisture and dirt. Cups and glasses should be upside down and flatware handles up. Keep trays, carts, food contact surfaces, and equipment cleaned and sanitized until ready to use.

Other Cleaning Considerations

Every facility needs a master cleaning schedule along with staff training and monitoring to see that it’s carried out effectively. Training should include using the correct tools, supplies, and storage to prevent contamination. Many foodservice chemicals are hazardous and may cause chemical contamination, so staff must know how to use them safely.


Wet and dry cloths are used in cleaning and sanitizing. Never use them interchangeably. Wet cloths used for wiping counters and equipment should be stored in a red bucket of fresh sanitizing solution when not in use. Separate cloths that come in contact with raw proteins from other cleaning cloths. Dry cloths must remain dry and are used to wipe spills from tables or the edges of plates. They cannot be visibly dirty or contain food debris when in use.

Premise Cleaning

Non-food contact surfaces like walls, ceilings, floor, and equipment exteriors don’t need to be sanitized, but they do require regular cleaning to prevent dirt, dust, and grease buildup. This helps prevent pathogens as well as pests.

Cleaning After Sick People

Vomit and diarrhea carry the very contagious norovirus, so cleaning them up correctly is important to prevent contamination and others becoming sick. Your establishment must have written procedures for cleaning vomit and diarrhea that trained staff members must follow to minimize contamination and exposure to foods, surfaces, and people.

Tools and Supplies

Store cleaning tools separately and in easy to clean ways so as to not contaminate foods and equipment. The designated storage area should have: adequate lighting to see chemicals well; hooks for hanging brooms, mops and other tools so they can air dry without dirtying the wall; a utility sink for filling buckets and washing tools; and a floor drain for dumping dirty water. Never clean mops, brushes, etc. in handwashing, food prep, or dishwashing sinks, and never dump mop water into toilets or urinals. Clean and rinse buckets and allow to air dry before storing.

Foodservice Chemicals

Foodservice chemicals can cause chemical contamination, so cross-contamination must be avoided. Only use approved chemicals. Never store unneeded chemicals. Cover or move nearby items that could become contaminated before using chemicals. Clean and sanitize equipment and utensils after using chemicals. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines. Store chemicals in the original containers (labeled with instructions and common name) in designated areas separate from food, equipment, linens, and utensils. Space chemicals apart from other items or partition them from other items, and always keep them under food, equipment, utensils, linens, etc., never above.

An Operation Cleaning Program

Develop a master cleaning schedule and train your staff to follow it, monitoring their use of the program to see if it’s effective. Your master cleaning schedule should list all cleaning jobs in certain areas, or list jobs in the order they should be done, including food and non-food areas. Assign tasks to specific individuals. Cleaning and sanitizing should happen daily as needed, and major cleaning should be done when foods won’t risk contamination. Work schedules should accommodate cleaning time. Have clear written procedures for cleaning, including the tools and chemicals that should be used. Change the master cleaning schedule as needed when menu, procedures, or equipment changes, and include staff input when making changes.

Additional Terms and Concepts to Study:

Cleaning vs. Sanitizing
Cleaning Dishes

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